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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
HUBER HEIGHTS - Huber Heights City Schools is finalizing a plan to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the safety of its athletic facilities.
The school board will vote today during a special meeting to award a $350,000 contract to E&D Specialty Stands Inc. to install bleachers at four facilities - a project that was originally estimated to cost $405,000.
The other two bids for the project were $358,000 (Dave York Sports) and $388,091 (Schultz Industries, Inc.). The project will be paid for out of the district's permanent improvement fund, treasurer Ann Bernardo said.
"We're obviously grateful we're not going to spend the money we thought we were going to have to," she said. "It helps keep those funds in our PI fund for other expenses that might come up."
Improvements will be made to Good Samaritan Athletic Fields at Heidkamp Stadium, Studebaker football field, and the Wayne High School tennis courts and softball field. The project is expected to begin June 1 and be completed by Aug. 1 in time for the fall sports season, Superintendent Sue Gunnell said.
"Those activities start right away the first of August," Gunnell said. "That's why we're pushing to make sure everything is completed by that time frame."
At Heidkamp Stadium, wooden bleachers on the visitor side will be replaced by aluminium ones that will seat 1,500 people. Construction of a retaining wall, concrete pad and concrete walkway also are included in the project.
The seating capacity will not expand. Total seating capacity at Heidkamp Stadium is between 5,500 and 6,000, said Jay Minton, the district's athletic director and head football coach at Wayne.
"It's a safety thing," Minton said. "They've been safe, but they've been borderline safe. I'd hate for anything to happen. It's getting to a point where something has to be done."
At Studebaker football field, new home-side aluminium bleachers that seat 500 and a concrete pad will be installed. A set of 50-seat bleachers will be installed at both the high school tennis courts and softball field.
Future athletic facility projects will include new bleachers for the baseball field, designated bleachers for the band and a new scoreboard for Heidkamp Stadium, Gunnell said.
The district's permanent improvement fund currently has a balance of $1.3 million, Bernardo said. The fund generates $600,000 a year from property tax revenue, and the district has not had to dip into that fund for major expenses the last several years because of the construction of seven new school buildings.
Voters approved a 6.92-mill bond issue in 2008 for a $162 million building project, and the Ohio School Facilities Commission funded 52 percent of that.
Voters have rejected the district's request for new operating funds five times in a row, and Gunnell said school officials will be discussing a possible levy on the November ballot.
Last month, the school board decided to set the participation fee at $428 per student per sport - with a $1,200 family cap and payment plan - for the 2014-15 school year, which is the same rate as this year.
Huber Heights has an enrollment of about 6,000 students.
Contact this reporter at 937-225-2281 or email@example.com Follow him on Twitter@StevenWMatthews.